The Delhi High Court on Saturday directed medical boards and the police to explain the pros and cons of medical termination of pregnancy in the language understood by the pregnant minors, in cases pertaining to rape, Bar and Bench reported.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma passed the direction while hearing an abortion plea of a 16-year-old girl who is 25 weeks pregnant.

The girl had sought an abortion, saying that the pregnancy was a result of her relationship with a boy who had raped her. However, at the hearing on Saturday, the medical board submitted a report saying that the girl was unwilling to undergo abortion. The board had been directed by the court on Friday to assess whether the medical termination of the pregnancy could pose a risk to the girl’s life.

The girl told the court on Saturday that although she wanted to terminate her pregnancy, she feared losing her life in the process, as the doctors had explained to her the danger to her in case of abortion.

However, the court said on Saturday that the medical report had not mentioned that the board had told the girl that she would lose her life. “Therefore, it seems that there is some miscommunication,” the court noted.

The court then asked the girl to appear before the medical superintendent and the medical board at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in Delhi. It asked the board to again explain to the girl the pros and cons of medical termination of pregnancy in Hindi, her first language, before she takes a decision.

The High Court said that if the girl agrees to undergo abortion, the doctors should conduct the process on the same day. The court also noted that the girl’s aunt, who is the minor’s guardian, was in favour of the abortion.

Further, the High Court issued a direction that it is imperative for authorities to explain the process of medical termination to minors who have been raped.

“Medical termination of pregnancy involves mental and physical repercussion which may last for a life time and therefore, the procedure to be followed cannot be a routine or business like exercise,” the court said. “The most vital strength in such cases can often come from the doctors who examine such victim and explain to them the pros and cons.”

In January, the High Court allowed a minor to undergo medical termination of her 25-week pregnancy and issued guidelines to the police on pregnancies exceeding 24 weeks.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Rules, abortion is permitted till 20 weeks of pregnancy. Women and minors who have been sexually assaulted, raped or faced incest can abort the foetus at 24 weeks.